(Part II.) (Click here for Part I.)
The record of what happened that night comes to us from multiple sources, but it would likely have remained a secret had it not been for the confession of one young man.
This man, actually an older teen, probably attended this children’s camp as an assistant to help the youth director with the younger children. Later that summer he would visit the larger Oklahoma Southern Baptist camp known as Falls Creek. (2018 article on unrelated Falls Creek rape cover up here) Falls Creek had for many years been a place where teens felt moved to repentance and a place where many had come to accept Christ as their Savior. As was typical at the time, volunteers from the church were available and gave private council to assist these teens with their struggles and guide them in spiritual matters. Perhaps it was this open and emotionally stirring environment that led him to confess his dark secret to a deacon of FBC Sapulpa. Nothing could have prepared this deacon for the story he would hear from this teenage boy.
It started with a confession that he had been engaged in homosexual sex with the youth leader of FBC Sapulpa. But it didn’t stop there. He told the deacon that other boys had been groomed, some much much younger than he, and at least two were selected and separated from the rest of the kids. These young boys spent the night with the youth pastor in his private cabin where they engaged in sex. They were sexually molested and the other boys at camp knew about it.
The natural reaction of this deacon was probably one of horror tempered by skepticism. Yet this deacon acted swiftly. Immediately this information was handed to church leadership, the staff, and deacons. To determine the truthfulness of the story some people were questioned. It was found that all the boys who had attended this children’s camp indeed knew what happened that night. The young children and teens knew that this youth pastor had taken two boys from their cabin that fateful night and they knew it wasn’t right. They told how he had selected one child who was “effeminate” or who they perceived as less likely to be able to put up a vigorous struggle. The majority of the boys had not experienced any abuse of their own but were nonetheless traumatized by what had happened to their little friends.
The deacon demanded action. He was assured by the leadership that they would do the right thing. In reality, this was the beginning of a meticulous cover up that is still being carried out at FBC Sapulpa to this day.
While the allegations of his homosexual pedophilia began to swirl, an even more amazing thing happened that would seem to contradict that stream of thought. The youth pastor got married. This was a marriage that would bond him conveniently close to the Sapulpa Police department and other law enforcement. A young widow was happily wed to this man following the bizarre murder of her husband. Her slain husband was a highway patrolman who had been murdered senselessly by a lunatic on highway 97 in Sapulpa during a routine traffic stop. He left behind his young bride and an infant child. To a church who was unaware of the truly sick mind of their youth pastor this marriage and adoption must have seemed like a noble act of loving kindness. However, most of the police at Sapulpa advised the widow against this marriage because they knew something of the true nature of this man. At this point they probably didn’t know about his pedophilia, but there is evidence they did have knowledge of other criminal activity.
The youth pastor’s aforementioned love of glamorous living and obvious lack of morals had made it easy for him to formulate a rudimentary insurance plot. He had reported some stolen antiques and attempted to file an insurance claim. An investigation by police revealed that the missing items were not stolen at all but safely tucked away in his attic. Amazingly, his standing in the church appears to have shielded him from prosecution for fraud in this matter. How did this happen?
FBC Sapulpa was a typical large baptist church and operated in the traditonal manner. The deacon body was the board of directors of the church and the staff were the executive officers. Also typical was that the deacon body was headed by wealthy or influential members of the community and also included people involved in politics. At the time the rapes were made known to the deacons of FBC Sapulpa there was both a Sapulpa Chief of Police and a District Attorney setting prominently in the church. (Please note these are not the current Chief and DA. Both of the men mentioned above are no longer in office AND no longer living.) The church leadership received the report of the deacon’s information from the teen confession at Falls Creek. The politically astute members realized a scandal of this magnitude could be a political disaster and would also ruin the reputation of the church. It also set them up for a serious conflict of interests. To cause the arrest and prosecution of a member of the staff they had interviewed and hired would make these deacons look pretty bad. Taking all this into consideration, when the church got around to interviewing the youth pastor about the rapes, it was no surprise what they chose to do. Cover it up.
No official police report is known to have been filed. Yet, after a few interviews and discussions the facts around this alleged series of rapes became undeniable.
- The youth pastor was engaged in sexual activity with an older teen boy who was of the legal age of consent.
- The youth pastor also selected and groomed at least two very young boys who were nowhere near the legal age of consent.
- At a children’s camp near Stillwater, OK, these young children were taken from their cabin in full view of the other children and spent the night in the youth pastor’s private cabin.
- They were raped by the youth pastor.
- The other boys at camp were not directly abused, but were aware of what happened.
- The older teen boy/ lover reported these rapes to a deacon.
- The other children who witnessed the abduction voiced their disgust and anger to their parents and deacons as well.
- Due to the church’s mishandling of this abuse, many of these boys would be forever changed in their views on church and Christ.
The Chief of Police of Sapulpa, the District Attorney, and the pastor of FBC Sapulpa, (all 3 men are now deceased) developed a solution that would rid the church of this pedophile and enable them to save face in the process. Their plan: ask him to leave and not come back, otherwise he would stand to face charges for insurance fraud. There was just two problems with this plan. 1) There was a rouge and righteously driven deacon who was demanding more action 2) The plan totally neglected the most important people… the victims.
Of course, when you are the most powerful church in town and you control the political offices and law enforcement offices you can do what ever you want.
The lone deacon pushing the church to do right was coming under heavy pressure by the other deacons to shut his mouth. He knew that the police were aware of the abuse because of their association with the deacon body and understood they would be of no help. As he attempted to gather the evidence needed to be able to overcome the inevitable cover up, he began to receive legal threats and, eventually, death threats. Though undeterred, his window of opportunity to seek justice for these boys was rapidly closing.
It would finally slam shut following an intense meeting between the head pastor of FBC Sapulpa and the accused child rapist. The pre-planned ultimatum was delivered by the head pastor. The youth pastor was to leave town or face charges for fraud. Shortly thereafter he packed his wife and adopted infant child in his luxury sports car and left town for Texas breathing threats against the church, the pastor, and especially the deacon who exposed him.
The deacon was silenced. The victims forgotten. The pedophile was gone. The church maintained its good name and the parents were none the wiser. For some, this problem passed on into oblivion and they happily moved on with their political careers and church lives. Tragically, the epilogue for others did not unfold so perfectly. Their views on trust, church, and God, would be deeply undermined by the church’s handling of the evil that transpired that dark summer night at children’s camp. Unfortunately for some of them, the story only gets worse from here.
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